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Interview
Matthias Li

Ocean Park Hong Kong is one of the most established and respected parks on the Asian continent, setting the bar for the industry. How are things shaping up under the new CEO?

By Alice Davis | Published in Attractions Management 2017 issue 1


It was a difficult year for Ocean Park Hong Kong. In 2016, the marine theme park reported a near 20 per cent fall in visitors and a HK$241m ($31m, £25m, €29m) deficit – highly unusual – for the fiscal year.

This was caused by a combination of circumstances that created a perfect storm for the Hong Kong tourism industry. There were several contributing factors.

“Hong Kong is currently facing extremely tough business challenges, especially in the tourism sector,” says Ocean Park CEO Matthias Li Sing-chung. “The market is facing some headwinds due to the declining economy, downturning retail environment, depreciation of currencies of other Asian destinations, and change in tourism-related policy. All of this has played a part in eroding Hong Kong’s competitiveness against other regional cities and affected tourist arrivals to the city, as well as to tourist attractions like Ocean Park.”

It’s marked an eventful start for the new CEO, who only took the reins from outgoing boss Tom Mehrmann in July. Li’s no stranger, though, having been part of the Ocean Park family since he joined as finance director in 1994. If anyone can navigate the tempest, it should be Li.

“Over the past 22 years, I’ve developed a deep passion for Ocean Park, not only from working with the entire staff to transform a local recreational facility into an international tourist destination, but also from experiencing up-close the pride locals derive from their park,” Li says. “Now, as CEO, my immediate focus is to face the challenges presented by the changes in Hong Kong’s visitor profile and the intense competition in the region.”

In recent years, tourism to Hong Kong was rising, reaching an all-time high of 60.8 million in 2014. However, in the two years since, those numbers have taken a hit, falling 4.5 per cent from 2015 to 56.7 million last year. In turn, that’s affected Hong Kong’s attractions.

In its year ending 30 June 2015, Ocean Park welcomed 7.4 million guests, its third-highest attendance on record. That made it the 15th-most visited park in the world, according to the annual TEA/AECOM report. This was topped off by its second-highest ever total revenue (HK$1.9bn, $243m, £205m, €238m) and a surplus of HK$45.2m. However, for the financial year ending June 2016, the park received just 6 million guests, a decline of 18.9 per cent.

THE MAINLAND FACTOR
Hong Kong Disneyland was also affected, attributed to the fall in the number of tourists from Mainland China – a demographic that once made up almost eight out of 10 visitors to the autonomous territory. A series of anti-tourist protests by Hongkongers unhappy with the huge surge in Mainland visitors is at least partly to blame. Reports show the number of visitors from China fell 50 per cent in the first half of 2015 as a direct result of the protests. Hong Kong’s image as a hospitable place was tarnished, and many Chinese decided to go elsewhere, flying instead to Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.

With 120 million Chinese travelling abroad each year, it’s a huge piece of the pie to lose out on. Countries like Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the US lifted visa restrictions on Chinese visitors, making trips easier to arrange than those to Hong Kong, where travel permits and visas are still required. Other factors, too, influenced Mainlanders’ decisions.

“Competition from other regional destinations, the strengthening HK dollar against the renminbi and other currencies, and slowing economic growth in China have affected Mainland visitor flows to the city,” Li says. “The Hong Kong Tourism Association predicts the city will continue to see a 10 per cent drop in the number of group visitors and 20 to 30 per cent drop in the number of FITs [free independent travellers] from Mainland China.”

In past years, 50 per cent of Ocean Park’s visitors were Chinese, with 35 per cent from Hong Kong. This demographic has altered, as now about 40 per cent are Chinese and 40 per cent are local. The next core markets are Taiwan, South Korea, India and the Philippines.

PEOPLE’S PARK
So, what is Li to do in the face of these facts and figures? Well, first and foremost, he’s not painting a gloomy picture – anything but. This year marks Ocean Park’s 40th anniversary, and there has been a celebratory mood, especially among the locals. In fact, the attraction’s reputation as the “people’s park” is one of the foundations of its success over the years.

It’s a “homegrown” operation that dates back to 1977, when it was funded by the Hong Kong Jockey Club and built on land donated by the government. In the early 80s, the Jockey Club funded further development and rides, until 1987 when Ocean Park Corporation was formed, a financially-independent, not-for-profit organisation with a government-appointed board. Ocean Park reached a defining moment in 2005 with the launch of a HK$5.5bn ($709m, £573m, €665m) Master Redevelopment Plan (MRP), taking the park from a mid-size attraction to a global destination. The master plan doubled the number of the site’s attractions and rides, included the opening of Old Hong Kong, which recreates the streetscape and ambience of the city 50 years ago.

Last year alone, 2.4 million Hongkongers visited Ocean Park, that’s one-third of the domestic population. More than 450,000 of them benefited from complimentary or cut-price admission, as the park offers free entry to under threes, over 65s, registered disabled and all residents on their birthday.

“Through the ups and downs of the past 40 years, we’ve always believed it’s crucial to uphold our local appeal and remain well connected to the community,” Li says.

STAYING CREATIVE
The 90-hectare (222-acre) Ocean Park is situated on the southern side of Hong Kong Island at a bay called Tai Shue Wan. Overlooking the South China Sea, the resort consists of two areas, the Waterfront and the Summit, connected by cable cars and the Ocean Express funicular. The park has over 80 attractions, with the Summit home to a wide variety of thrill and family rides. There are live shows at the Ocean Theatre dolphinarium, designed to “educate and entertain”, and the chance to visit the Ocean Park Tower, one of the tallest observation towers in Southeast Asia. At the Waterfront, themed areas include Amazing Asian Animals, where some of the continent’s rarest species are on display.

To keep people coming, especially for a destination that’s dependent on repeat visits from locals, Li knows it’s important to keep innovating. “As the years go by, it’s important to stay creative to win guests over,” he says.

On that note, there are major developments coming down the track. The most exciting must be the brand new year-round waterpark on the site of the old Water World facility, opening in 2018. There are two hotels on the way, the Ocean Park Marriot Hotel and the Fullerton Hotel @ Ocean Park. The children’s play zone Whiskers Harbour is also being modernised. And, in December, a transport link opened, the MTR South Island Line (East), which connects central Admiralty to Ocean Park Station in just four minutes.

NEW INVESTMENTS
“The all-weather Water World will stay open late to offer night attractions for the local community and international tourists,” Li says. “The MTR South Island Line significantly enhances our connectivity across the entire area of Hong Kong, making a visit to Ocean Park even more convenient. It will likely facilitate increased guest visitation from both locals and FITs. The opening of the hotels will enable us to extend the visit duration of our guests, elevating the appeal of Ocean Park. They will also provide a new venue for Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) event organisers from around the world, which will be easily accessible thanks to the new MTR link.”

There’s work going on behind the scenes, too, as the park strives to constantly improve the visitor’s day out. Free resort-wide Wi-Fi has been rolled out, and a new mobile app. Special promotions are targeted at specific overseas markets with growth potential. Also newly launched, the park’s self-developed proprietary PFlow guest management system – winner of a GSM Association Asia Mobile Award – is enhancing how people experience the park.

“PFlow is a custom-designed integrated mobile platform that enables timely collection, analysis and dissemination of guest flow and guest mix information. The data empowers our management team to make calculated decisions that can enhance guest experiences, such as the proactive management of guest flow, operations and manpower,” says Li.

Furthermore, Ocean Park’s “Big Five” seasonal offerings are updated and enhanced, often featuring new local elements and strategic brand collaborations, to ensure Summer Splash, Halloween Fest, Christmas Sensation, Lunar Lucky Fiesta and Animal Discovery Fest keep people returning year after year.

INTENSIFYING COMPETITION
The region’s theme park sector is heating up, particularly with Disney opening in Shanghai last June. For families who want to visit a theme park in the region, the China resort must be at the top of the list.

“Ever-intensifying competition posed by new and existing themed attractions in the region, including Disneyland Shanghai, Chimelong Ocean Kingdom in Zhuhai, and numerous family entertainment facilities in Macau, have channelled away, or even, deterred Mainland tourists from visiting Hong Kong as they can gain easy access to themed entertainment closer to home.”

“However, despite the current downturns in economy and the industry, the demand for leisure activities in the region will continue to grow, given the rising number of middle class within Mainland China, and the rapidly increasing income levels.”

Li believes the growth of the attractions industry in Asia is helping meet demand for leisure and entertainment and in turn promoting both short and long-haul tourism in the region. Big players like Disney raise standards and increase appetite for large-scale destination attractions.

“The entry of international players encourages theme parks in the region to improve their hardware and software to meet the expectations for high quality, fun and value-for-money guest experiences, heightening the industry’s standards.”

MANAGING A CRISIS
As Li reflects on a 40-year story, what’s the greatest challenge the park has faced?

“I believe that would be around 2003, the time when SARS hit Hong Kong and the region, impacting Hong Kong’s economy and the sentiments of locals and overseas visitors, not to mention the park’s attendance. That was a big challenge for all members of the park and for me as the finance director at the time.”

Li says that the park’s persistence and strength in the face of such adversity helped the business survive as it looked to the future with the launch of the highly ambitious MRP, which broke ground in late 2006 and was completed in July 2012. That year the park became the first Asian winner of the IAAPA Applause award.

ANIMAL LOVERS
Ocean Park’s position as a marine and animal attraction should not be forgotten. The company’s mission to educate guests about wild animals has always been a central tenet. It became the first zoological park outside North America to be accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) – and that accreditation is something the park takes very seriously.

“All zoos and aquariums have a responsibility to ensure the highest standard of welfare for all animals in their care. The park subscribes to the animal welfare ordinances in Hong Kong and works closely with the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department to ensure that all our exhibits, along with the management practices, are designed with the animals’ physical, social and psychological needs in mind.”

This has meant that over the years Ocean Park’s status has grown. The facility invests in education and scientific research, works on conservation in the wild through Ocean Park Conservation Foundation Hong Kong (OPCFHK) and is now recognised as an international conservation centre. The park shares its expertise in sustainable breeding programmes which focus on genetic diversity and recently became the first Asian facility to be certified by the American Humane Association. Meanwhile the OPCFHK supported 51 conservation projects across nine countries last year.

Onsite, Ocean Park has an approach that aims to facilitate learning through intimate experiences with animals, such as dolphin, penguin and seal encounters. But how does Li react to criticisms about attractions that encourage human-to-animal interaction? For example, TripAdvisor recently announced it would stop selling tickets to attractions that offer direct contact with wild animals. Is this something that could affect the park?

“We understand TripAdvisor’s decision would encourage animal facilities to put greater consideration into the responsible designing of educational programmes that involve close encounters with animals in captivity,” Li says. “While we agree there are different ways to raise awareness on animal conservation, we strongly believe that the impact of actually seeing and connecting with animals is much more immediate and far-reaching than alternative methods, thereby irreplaceable in inspiring people to make behavioural changes in their daily lives to contribute to protecting these precious animals.”

CHANGING WORLD
Li cites some studies by the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums (AMMPA) that found nine out of 10 people believe children learn more about marine mammals at an aquarium or zoo than in a school classroom or from TV programmes.

“In our beliefs, it is important for accredited facilities, such as Ocean Park, to provide opportunities for guests to experience animals in a respectful, safe and educational environment. Our guests are touched at their hearts and are taught about the need to conserve the animals. The positive effect of our presentations has been validated time and time again through third-party research and in-park guest surveys,” Li says, though he concedes he will continue to “observe any changes in the situation”.

“Nothing will ever stop us from constantly improving ourselves. We understand that the world is changing quickly and that’s the same for the standards in animal welfare nowadays,” says the CEO. “Therefore, going forward, we shall continue to keep our animal facilities and management practices up to, or even exceeding, industry standards, in order to offer the best possible care to all animal ambassadors in the park while promoting the important messages of conservation to our guests.”

“The key to remaining resilient is we understand our edge and we never cease to amuse our guests. We are determined to keep this up under all circumstances.”


Water World
• WhiteWater West is working on the 693,000sq ft project, which is twice the size of the original waterpark

• the first and only waterfront waterpark in Southeast Asia

• designed to seamlessly integrate with its hillside surroundings through a series of terraced platforms and wave pools

• 27 indoor and outdoor attractions, plus dining and retail outlets

• expected to create 2,900 jobs and add HK$842 million to the GDP by 2018


Conservation Work
• working with AZA’s SAFE (Saving Animals From Extinction) to conserve local species, including yellow seahorses, corals and horseshoe crabs

• collaborating with local universities, government and non-government organisations

• running a multi-year advocacy campaign called Blue Matters, highlighting 10 at-risk species in the region, including the Hong Kong newt, acroporidae coral, green turtle, Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, scalloped hammerhead shark, giant panda and golden snub-nosed monkey

• staff training to empower park employees to be conservation advocates

• outreach programmes educating over 7,200 students from local schools on conservation matters

• on-site breeding programmes

• OPCFHK sponsorship for 34 conservation and scientific projects, helping giant pandas, Chinese white dolphins, Malayan tigers, Yangtze finless porpoises, Eurasian otters and more

• operating the Cetacean Stranding Response Team

Ocean Park consists of a marine park, zoo, aquarium, waterpark and theme parks
Ocean Park consists of a marine park, zoo, aquarium, waterpark and theme parks
Ocean Park consists of a marine park, zoo, aquarium, waterpark and theme parks
Ocean Park consists of a marine park, zoo, aquarium, waterpark and theme parks
Polar Adventure, which opened in 2012, features Arctic Blast
Polar Adventure, which opened in 2012, features South Pole Specatacular
Demand for leisure activities in the region will continue to grow, given the rising middle class in China and the rapidly increasing income levels
Water World spans indoor and outdoor areas across three storeys. Themes include the reef, the caves and the beach
Water World spans indoor and outdoor areas across three storeys. Themes include the reef, the caves and the beach
Water World spans indoor and outdoor areas across three storeys. Themes include the reef, the caves and the beach
The Fullerton Hotel @ Ocean Park will help increase hotel room supply in Hong Kong
A Seal Encounter session takes place with a trainer. Guests interact with the animals by feeding and touching them
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Interview
Matthias Li

Ocean Park Hong Kong is one of the most established and respected parks on the Asian continent, setting the bar for the industry. How are things shaping up under the new CEO?

By Alice Davis | Published in Attractions Management 2017 issue 1


It was a difficult year for Ocean Park Hong Kong. In 2016, the marine theme park reported a near 20 per cent fall in visitors and a HK$241m ($31m, £25m, €29m) deficit – highly unusual – for the fiscal year.

This was caused by a combination of circumstances that created a perfect storm for the Hong Kong tourism industry. There were several contributing factors.

“Hong Kong is currently facing extremely tough business challenges, especially in the tourism sector,” says Ocean Park CEO Matthias Li Sing-chung. “The market is facing some headwinds due to the declining economy, downturning retail environment, depreciation of currencies of other Asian destinations, and change in tourism-related policy. All of this has played a part in eroding Hong Kong’s competitiveness against other regional cities and affected tourist arrivals to the city, as well as to tourist attractions like Ocean Park.”

It’s marked an eventful start for the new CEO, who only took the reins from outgoing boss Tom Mehrmann in July. Li’s no stranger, though, having been part of the Ocean Park family since he joined as finance director in 1994. If anyone can navigate the tempest, it should be Li.

“Over the past 22 years, I’ve developed a deep passion for Ocean Park, not only from working with the entire staff to transform a local recreational facility into an international tourist destination, but also from experiencing up-close the pride locals derive from their park,” Li says. “Now, as CEO, my immediate focus is to face the challenges presented by the changes in Hong Kong’s visitor profile and the intense competition in the region.”

In recent years, tourism to Hong Kong was rising, reaching an all-time high of 60.8 million in 2014. However, in the two years since, those numbers have taken a hit, falling 4.5 per cent from 2015 to 56.7 million last year. In turn, that’s affected Hong Kong’s attractions.

In its year ending 30 June 2015, Ocean Park welcomed 7.4 million guests, its third-highest attendance on record. That made it the 15th-most visited park in the world, according to the annual TEA/AECOM report. This was topped off by its second-highest ever total revenue (HK$1.9bn, $243m, £205m, €238m) and a surplus of HK$45.2m. However, for the financial year ending June 2016, the park received just 6 million guests, a decline of 18.9 per cent.

THE MAINLAND FACTOR
Hong Kong Disneyland was also affected, attributed to the fall in the number of tourists from Mainland China – a demographic that once made up almost eight out of 10 visitors to the autonomous territory. A series of anti-tourist protests by Hongkongers unhappy with the huge surge in Mainland visitors is at least partly to blame. Reports show the number of visitors from China fell 50 per cent in the first half of 2015 as a direct result of the protests. Hong Kong’s image as a hospitable place was tarnished, and many Chinese decided to go elsewhere, flying instead to Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.

With 120 million Chinese travelling abroad each year, it’s a huge piece of the pie to lose out on. Countries like Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the US lifted visa restrictions on Chinese visitors, making trips easier to arrange than those to Hong Kong, where travel permits and visas are still required. Other factors, too, influenced Mainlanders’ decisions.

“Competition from other regional destinations, the strengthening HK dollar against the renminbi and other currencies, and slowing economic growth in China have affected Mainland visitor flows to the city,” Li says. “The Hong Kong Tourism Association predicts the city will continue to see a 10 per cent drop in the number of group visitors and 20 to 30 per cent drop in the number of FITs [free independent travellers] from Mainland China.”

In past years, 50 per cent of Ocean Park’s visitors were Chinese, with 35 per cent from Hong Kong. This demographic has altered, as now about 40 per cent are Chinese and 40 per cent are local. The next core markets are Taiwan, South Korea, India and the Philippines.

PEOPLE’S PARK
So, what is Li to do in the face of these facts and figures? Well, first and foremost, he’s not painting a gloomy picture – anything but. This year marks Ocean Park’s 40th anniversary, and there has been a celebratory mood, especially among the locals. In fact, the attraction’s reputation as the “people’s park” is one of the foundations of its success over the years.

It’s a “homegrown” operation that dates back to 1977, when it was funded by the Hong Kong Jockey Club and built on land donated by the government. In the early 80s, the Jockey Club funded further development and rides, until 1987 when Ocean Park Corporation was formed, a financially-independent, not-for-profit organisation with a government-appointed board. Ocean Park reached a defining moment in 2005 with the launch of a HK$5.5bn ($709m, £573m, €665m) Master Redevelopment Plan (MRP), taking the park from a mid-size attraction to a global destination. The master plan doubled the number of the site’s attractions and rides, included the opening of Old Hong Kong, which recreates the streetscape and ambience of the city 50 years ago.

Last year alone, 2.4 million Hongkongers visited Ocean Park, that’s one-third of the domestic population. More than 450,000 of them benefited from complimentary or cut-price admission, as the park offers free entry to under threes, over 65s, registered disabled and all residents on their birthday.

“Through the ups and downs of the past 40 years, we’ve always believed it’s crucial to uphold our local appeal and remain well connected to the community,” Li says.

STAYING CREATIVE
The 90-hectare (222-acre) Ocean Park is situated on the southern side of Hong Kong Island at a bay called Tai Shue Wan. Overlooking the South China Sea, the resort consists of two areas, the Waterfront and the Summit, connected by cable cars and the Ocean Express funicular. The park has over 80 attractions, with the Summit home to a wide variety of thrill and family rides. There are live shows at the Ocean Theatre dolphinarium, designed to “educate and entertain”, and the chance to visit the Ocean Park Tower, one of the tallest observation towers in Southeast Asia. At the Waterfront, themed areas include Amazing Asian Animals, where some of the continent’s rarest species are on display.

To keep people coming, especially for a destination that’s dependent on repeat visits from locals, Li knows it’s important to keep innovating. “As the years go by, it’s important to stay creative to win guests over,” he says.

On that note, there are major developments coming down the track. The most exciting must be the brand new year-round waterpark on the site of the old Water World facility, opening in 2018. There are two hotels on the way, the Ocean Park Marriot Hotel and the Fullerton Hotel @ Ocean Park. The children’s play zone Whiskers Harbour is also being modernised. And, in December, a transport link opened, the MTR South Island Line (East), which connects central Admiralty to Ocean Park Station in just four minutes.

NEW INVESTMENTS
“The all-weather Water World will stay open late to offer night attractions for the local community and international tourists,” Li says. “The MTR South Island Line significantly enhances our connectivity across the entire area of Hong Kong, making a visit to Ocean Park even more convenient. It will likely facilitate increased guest visitation from both locals and FITs. The opening of the hotels will enable us to extend the visit duration of our guests, elevating the appeal of Ocean Park. They will also provide a new venue for Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) event organisers from around the world, which will be easily accessible thanks to the new MTR link.”

There’s work going on behind the scenes, too, as the park strives to constantly improve the visitor’s day out. Free resort-wide Wi-Fi has been rolled out, and a new mobile app. Special promotions are targeted at specific overseas markets with growth potential. Also newly launched, the park’s self-developed proprietary PFlow guest management system – winner of a GSM Association Asia Mobile Award – is enhancing how people experience the park.

“PFlow is a custom-designed integrated mobile platform that enables timely collection, analysis and dissemination of guest flow and guest mix information. The data empowers our management team to make calculated decisions that can enhance guest experiences, such as the proactive management of guest flow, operations and manpower,” says Li.

Furthermore, Ocean Park’s “Big Five” seasonal offerings are updated and enhanced, often featuring new local elements and strategic brand collaborations, to ensure Summer Splash, Halloween Fest, Christmas Sensation, Lunar Lucky Fiesta and Animal Discovery Fest keep people returning year after year.

INTENSIFYING COMPETITION
The region’s theme park sector is heating up, particularly with Disney opening in Shanghai last June. For families who want to visit a theme park in the region, the China resort must be at the top of the list.

“Ever-intensifying competition posed by new and existing themed attractions in the region, including Disneyland Shanghai, Chimelong Ocean Kingdom in Zhuhai, and numerous family entertainment facilities in Macau, have channelled away, or even, deterred Mainland tourists from visiting Hong Kong as they can gain easy access to themed entertainment closer to home.”

“However, despite the current downturns in economy and the industry, the demand for leisure activities in the region will continue to grow, given the rising number of middle class within Mainland China, and the rapidly increasing income levels.”

Li believes the growth of the attractions industry in Asia is helping meet demand for leisure and entertainment and in turn promoting both short and long-haul tourism in the region. Big players like Disney raise standards and increase appetite for large-scale destination attractions.

“The entry of international players encourages theme parks in the region to improve their hardware and software to meet the expectations for high quality, fun and value-for-money guest experiences, heightening the industry’s standards.”

MANAGING A CRISIS
As Li reflects on a 40-year story, what’s the greatest challenge the park has faced?

“I believe that would be around 2003, the time when SARS hit Hong Kong and the region, impacting Hong Kong’s economy and the sentiments of locals and overseas visitors, not to mention the park’s attendance. That was a big challenge for all members of the park and for me as the finance director at the time.”

Li says that the park’s persistence and strength in the face of such adversity helped the business survive as it looked to the future with the launch of the highly ambitious MRP, which broke ground in late 2006 and was completed in July 2012. That year the park became the first Asian winner of the IAAPA Applause award.

ANIMAL LOVERS
Ocean Park’s position as a marine and animal attraction should not be forgotten. The company’s mission to educate guests about wild animals has always been a central tenet. It became the first zoological park outside North America to be accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) – and that accreditation is something the park takes very seriously.

“All zoos and aquariums have a responsibility to ensure the highest standard of welfare for all animals in their care. The park subscribes to the animal welfare ordinances in Hong Kong and works closely with the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department to ensure that all our exhibits, along with the management practices, are designed with the animals’ physical, social and psychological needs in mind.”

This has meant that over the years Ocean Park’s status has grown. The facility invests in education and scientific research, works on conservation in the wild through Ocean Park Conservation Foundation Hong Kong (OPCFHK) and is now recognised as an international conservation centre. The park shares its expertise in sustainable breeding programmes which focus on genetic diversity and recently became the first Asian facility to be certified by the American Humane Association. Meanwhile the OPCFHK supported 51 conservation projects across nine countries last year.

Onsite, Ocean Park has an approach that aims to facilitate learning through intimate experiences with animals, such as dolphin, penguin and seal encounters. But how does Li react to criticisms about attractions that encourage human-to-animal interaction? For example, TripAdvisor recently announced it would stop selling tickets to attractions that offer direct contact with wild animals. Is this something that could affect the park?

“We understand TripAdvisor’s decision would encourage animal facilities to put greater consideration into the responsible designing of educational programmes that involve close encounters with animals in captivity,” Li says. “While we agree there are different ways to raise awareness on animal conservation, we strongly believe that the impact of actually seeing and connecting with animals is much more immediate and far-reaching than alternative methods, thereby irreplaceable in inspiring people to make behavioural changes in their daily lives to contribute to protecting these precious animals.”

CHANGING WORLD
Li cites some studies by the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums (AMMPA) that found nine out of 10 people believe children learn more about marine mammals at an aquarium or zoo than in a school classroom or from TV programmes.

“In our beliefs, it is important for accredited facilities, such as Ocean Park, to provide opportunities for guests to experience animals in a respectful, safe and educational environment. Our guests are touched at their hearts and are taught about the need to conserve the animals. The positive effect of our presentations has been validated time and time again through third-party research and in-park guest surveys,” Li says, though he concedes he will continue to “observe any changes in the situation”.

“Nothing will ever stop us from constantly improving ourselves. We understand that the world is changing quickly and that’s the same for the standards in animal welfare nowadays,” says the CEO. “Therefore, going forward, we shall continue to keep our animal facilities and management practices up to, or even exceeding, industry standards, in order to offer the best possible care to all animal ambassadors in the park while promoting the important messages of conservation to our guests.”

“The key to remaining resilient is we understand our edge and we never cease to amuse our guests. We are determined to keep this up under all circumstances.”


Water World
• WhiteWater West is working on the 693,000sq ft project, which is twice the size of the original waterpark

• the first and only waterfront waterpark in Southeast Asia

• designed to seamlessly integrate with its hillside surroundings through a series of terraced platforms and wave pools

• 27 indoor and outdoor attractions, plus dining and retail outlets

• expected to create 2,900 jobs and add HK$842 million to the GDP by 2018


Conservation Work
• working with AZA’s SAFE (Saving Animals From Extinction) to conserve local species, including yellow seahorses, corals and horseshoe crabs

• collaborating with local universities, government and non-government organisations

• running a multi-year advocacy campaign called Blue Matters, highlighting 10 at-risk species in the region, including the Hong Kong newt, acroporidae coral, green turtle, Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, scalloped hammerhead shark, giant panda and golden snub-nosed monkey

• staff training to empower park employees to be conservation advocates

• outreach programmes educating over 7,200 students from local schools on conservation matters

• on-site breeding programmes

• OPCFHK sponsorship for 34 conservation and scientific projects, helping giant pandas, Chinese white dolphins, Malayan tigers, Yangtze finless porpoises, Eurasian otters and more

• operating the Cetacean Stranding Response Team

Ocean Park consists of a marine park, zoo, aquarium, waterpark and theme parks
Ocean Park consists of a marine park, zoo, aquarium, waterpark and theme parks
Ocean Park consists of a marine park, zoo, aquarium, waterpark and theme parks
Ocean Park consists of a marine park, zoo, aquarium, waterpark and theme parks
Polar Adventure, which opened in 2012, features Arctic Blast
Polar Adventure, which opened in 2012, features South Pole Specatacular
Demand for leisure activities in the region will continue to grow, given the rising middle class in China and the rapidly increasing income levels
Water World spans indoor and outdoor areas across three storeys. Themes include the reef, the caves and the beach
Water World spans indoor and outdoor areas across three storeys. Themes include the reef, the caves and the beach
Water World spans indoor and outdoor areas across three storeys. Themes include the reef, the caves and the beach
The Fullerton Hotel @ Ocean Park will help increase hotel room supply in Hong Kong
A Seal Encounter session takes place with a trainer. Guests interact with the animals by feeding and touching them
LATEST NEWS
Bletchley Park and Eltham Palace's immersive LGBTQ+ show among winners of UK Heritage Awards
The home of British codebreaking, Bletchley Park has been named among the winners of this year's UK Heritage Awards – alongside an immersive performance charting LGBTQ+ heritage.
IAAPA cancels Attractions EXPO – pivots to virtual event
IAAPA has cancelled this year's Attractions Expo in Orlando and pivoted to a digital event, announcing a new virtual conference will take place on the same dates – 16-18 November.
Warner Bros. to open Harry Potter studio attraction in Japan
Warner Bros. has revealed plans to develop a Harry Potter studio tour attraction in Japanese capital Tokyo.
Reykjavik city centre set to welcome ocean-side geo-thermal wellness lagoon in 2021
Attractions and hospitality brand, Pursuit, has unveiled plans to develop a premium oceanfront geothermal lagoon in Iceland.
Therme Group announces development plans to roll out wellbeing resorts across UK
Following approval to build a £250mn wellbeing resort in Manchester, Therme Group has revealed plans to develop and expand its concept in other major UK cities.
COVID-19 stimulus package – VAT cut for hospitality, companies to get apprenticeship funding
The hospitality and attractions sectors will benefit from a temporary cut to VAT as part of stimulus measures announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak.
Eureka! reveals new designs for Eureka! Mersey – construction to begin in 2021
New concept designs and visuals have been released for the Eureka! Mersey project – a £11.75m children's visitor attraction being developed in Liverpool, UK.
Thermal project set to ‘redefine city wellbeing’ on track for 2023 opening
Global wellbeing organisation, Therme Group, has confirmed its 28-acre wellbeing project in the UK is on track to begin construction.
BIG creates spiral museum for Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet
Swiss luxury watchmaker Audemars Piguet will open a museum celebrating the company history next month (June 2020).
Israel's tourism industry begins gradual relaunch – some hotels given green light to open
Hotels and accommodations in Israel with ground floor rooms have been given permission to reopen for business – but only for domestic tourism.
Disney places 100,000 workers on unpaid leave – plans to save US$500m a month
Walt Disney is set to stop paying more than 100,000 of its theme park and hotel workers as the entertainment giant struggles with coronavirus closures.
Future of Canada's oldest aquarium 'under threat' due to coronavirus shutdown
Vancouver Aquarium is in danger of having to close its doors permanently, due to a collapse in revenues brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
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COMPANY PROFILES
DJW

David & Lynn Willrich started the Company over thirty years ago, from the Audio Visual Department [more...]
WhiteWater

WhiteWater was born in 1980 to create places where families unite and make joyful lasting memories [more...]
Triotech

Triotech was established in 1999. The company is based in Montreal, Canada and has additional offi [more...]
Red Raion

Founded in 2014, Red Raion is the CGI studio specialized in media based attractions. [more...]
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FEATURED SUPPLIER

Painting with Light pushes boundaries to create unforgettable visual concepts
Belgium-based light and video design studio, Painting with Light, will translate the story of your location into a visual experience, using the art of light architecture. [more...]
VIDEO GALLERY

Polin Waterparks & Pool Systems - Experience the experience
Have you ever wondered how the fun is created? Polin Waterparks is a global market leader in the design, manufacture and installation of waterparks and water play attractions. Find out more...
More videos:
Introducing AnimaChat! – Animalive
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CATALOGUE GALLERY
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DIRECTORY
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DIARY

 

08 Oct 2020

VAC 2020 VIRTUAL (The Annual National Conference of Visitor Attractions)

Online, United Kingdom
17-23 Oct 2020

World Leisure Congress 2020

Pinggu, Beijing, China
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